California state custodian didn’t work for 4 years, collected $185,000 in pay and benefits

A California Department of General Services custodian did almost no work for four years but collected $185,000 in pay and benefits through a fraudulent scheme with his supervisor, according to a California State Auditor investigative report published Thursday.

The custodian and his boss, neither of whom are identified in the report, coordinated from 2016 through 2020 to collect the custodian’s unearned paycheck and then to split the money, according to the report.

The pair “very likely engaged in a criminal conspiracy” and “also appear to have violated sections of the Penal Code that prohibit the embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds and the falsification of accounts by a public employee,” the report states.

The auditor’s office contacted the Department of General Services in December 2020 after receiving allegations of fraud, according to the report. The department discovered supporting evidence and sent it to the Department of Justice in January 2021, but the DOJ closed the investigations “without providing an explanation for its decision,” the report said.

DOJ, in a statement late Thursday afternoon, disputed auditor’s account.

“While the California Department of Justice does not typically announce our investigations to the public, it is inaccurate to say that the investigation of this case was closed,” the department said. We appreciate the state auditor’s work here and their office’s effort to add to our existing investigation.”

The auditor’s office pursued its own investigation, eventually securing admissions from both the custodian and supervisor, according to the report. The report indicates the custodian and the supervisor resigned.